Ong-Bak (Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior) Reviews
As a narrative piece, Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior does not have much originality to boast about. The story is an overly familiar one which drags its protagonist from his home village into the violent streets of Bangkok to see him compete in underground fighting where he gets caught up with criminals. The premise is utterly predictable and when the action is not happening, the story moves along slowly without characters who are anything more than paper-thin to match the story. Along with this, much of the visual experience is one which has been seen before. While Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior has the appealing scenery of a Thai village as the backdrop for Ting's home, it is underutilized. Since the film is about the Thai martial arts of Muay Thai, it has the potential to be a cultural piece, even if it is subtextual. Yet after the intro scene of the film, most of Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior ends up happening in the conventional streets and buildings of Bangkok which have been used as the setting in countless Hollywood films and are actually just generic most of the time. The colour scheme of this is rather blank as well, so the visual style does not bring much value to the experience when the action is not happening. The experience does not really get appealing until over 30 minutes into the film when the first chase of the film appears. The extensive parkour chase capitalises on the natural scenery of the world around for the first time in the film, but this is one of the few parts of Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior that actually does. Frankly, almost everything about Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior cries familiarity with the exception of Tony Jaa's role. This means that the only way that Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior can succeed is if it stays true to its genre roots as a solid action film.
One problem in Ong-Bak: Muay Thai warrior is that the action is spread out sporadically to make room for the narrative, yet it is the former which is of value and the latter which is not. Yet when the action deoes happen in Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, it is challenging to look away from. The action scenes in Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior are very versatile. They are not limited strictly to fight scenes, but rather they also capitalise on maximum use of the budget through all kinds of high profile stunts. The most notable are the chase scenes in the film through their use of parkour and vehicular stunts. And while the visual style of Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior is not that creative, the way it captures the action is brilliant. The chase scenes are tracked with extensive detail, capturing all the stunts from the perfect angles so that the open range setting of the story boosts the scale while also using medium-close shots to give audiences a close perspective on what is happening to the characters. The editing is also stable, so everything remains competent.
There is even a sense of humour in the film, most notably appearing first in the parkour chase scene where there is a consistent sense of slapstick occuring in the stunts. And the scene where all the Tuk-Tuks crash feels reminiscent of the many car chases from the 1980 comedy classic The Blues Brothers, adding to the nostalgic value of the film Even the character Humlae proves to be worth a few laughsin the film. Franky, as much of the narrative in Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior has little to offer in terms of innovation, the comedic touch elevates the experience and even serves as an effective throwback to some of the funnier martial arts films of the earlier decades, such as those featuring Jackie Chan.
But ultimately, as any critic can tell you, the success of Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior is all predicated around the performance of Tony Jaa. What he brings to the film is truly amazing, and it lives up to the hype put in by so many critics regarding his martial arts skills. Tony Jaa has amazing flexibility skills in what he can do to throw kicks or punches which puts up an effective gith against the villains of the story, and he performs with truly majestic movements. When he is not fighting, Tony Jaa brings value to Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior through depicting other forms of athleticism, most notably his incredible parkour abilities. The way that he jumps through and over everything while having time to throw all kinds of majestic punches and techniques in the process is an incredible skill When it comes to the actual character there is not much for Tony Jaa to develop in the role, but he maintains both the vulnerable everyman nature of a village peasant and the hard edge of a determined warrior at the same time which proves to be enough for the characer in the end. Tony Jaa captures an effective leading hero for Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior and proves his skills as a martial arts hero more than well enough.
Petchai Wongkamlao also provides a good character to the story. Sticking to the archetype, Petchai Wongkamlao brings the comic relief to the film through adding a fish-out-of-water sense of displacement within the narrative as well as a touch of slapstick. He lightens the mood and is quick with his physical charm as well as with his lighthearted delivery of lines, sufficiently bringing his own touch of humour to the film. But at the same time, the sense of humour he adds makes the character genuinely likable and therefore sympathetic which makes the tale more compelling than it might have been.
So Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior lacks an innovative plot of any kind and spreads its action out rather sporadically, yet the powerful nature of the action scenes and incredible talents of Tony Jaa keep it entertaining.
A hugely enjoyable all-action thrill ride that really does resemble Jet Li, Bruce Lee, and Jackie Chan movies. Tony Jaa may have very little to do in terms of actual acting, but without doubt this guy can fight. I have never seen so many people getting elbowed or kneed full force in the head or face. While every single fight is bone-crunchingly real looking, and I can only imagine how many performers got bruised and injured. The plot is 1980's video-game style simple, and if the Street fighter movie was even a little like this then it would have been a huge improvement. In all honesty I can't find any real substantial issue here, it's funny, deeply enjoyable, well-shot, exciting, and even through it's as deep as spilt milk, I'd still recommend this to anyone wanting a sharp jolt of fighting fun.